Mary – She Is Kindness In Action
My mother died of cancer at only 39 years of age having spent the last months of her life being cared for in a nursing home. My memories of that nursing home are not good; elderly people, unpleasant smells, illness and death. So even 13 years later when my elderly friend Frances was sent to a nursing home to recuperate from an illness I was reluctant and apprehensive about visiting her.
As I entered the front door with my friends Heather and Maureen, the familiar stench of bodily fluids hit me. I peered into the living room and saw a lot of elderly people sitting in chairs lined around the walls. But rather than running away, my heart was filled with compassion. I turned to Heather, a singer at our church and said ‘You should come and sing to them!’ As her eyes began to widen I heard a still, small voice on the inside of me say ‘Why don’t you sing for them Mary?’ ‘No way’ I said to myself but before I knew it Heather had replied. ‘Why don’t you sing to them Mary!’
The thought terrified me and by the time we got to Frances’ room I’d been silently giving God all the excuses about why I couldn’t possibly do it.
‘God you know I can’t stand old people because of my mum’s illness; and besides they don’t like dark people like me. Anyway they probably wont let me do it and I wouldn’t even know what to do if they did!’
I had no shortage of excuses but conviction had set in my heart and so I reluctantly gave in.
‘If it’s you GOD, then you’ll have to make it happen.’
Frances looked so frail lying in her bed; almost without thinking I started singing ‘Jesus loves me this I know’. She began to smile and before I knew it her husband said ‘ Mary, why don’t you sing for all of the old people? I’ll just go and ask Matron what she thinks.’ In what seemed like only a few minutes Matron came in all smiles ‘We would LOVE for you to come and sing.’
Desperately looking for a way out I said ‘If I sing hymns can Maureen preach from the Bible?’ I thought there’s no way that she will agree to that. Yet she did. ‘No problem’ replied the Matron. Even Maureen who I had just volunteered as a preacher looked pleased. Still fighting my fear I told the Matron that I really should get permission from my Pastor first, and would let her know. Of course my pastors response was ‘Go for it!’ I finally realised that I had run out of excuses.
How could I have known that that this small step of reluctant obedience would lead to the establishment of a program that saw us visiting 12 nursing homes every week for 10 years? I would sing hymns, which the old people loved to sing along to, Maureen would give a short message and then I would give a salvation call. We saw hundreds of men and women give their lives to God. We even managed to get government funding to provide gifts for everyone on Mothers/Fathers Day, Easter and Christmas. Every time I think back on our humble beginnings I am reminded that God’s vision is always bigger than our fear and that where He guides us he will provide for us.